House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was accused.

Topics

Public Inquiries
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister gives an arrogant and an unfeeling answer to a question about tainted blood. It is the type of answer that got the Prime Minister into all that trouble on the TV town hall meeting. It is the type of response that is considered so clever in this House and applauded by members opposite but which if repeated outside this House to the suffering families of the victims of tainted blood would be denounced by every compassionate Canadian as callous, unfeeling and-

Public Inquiries
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Public Inquiries
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

When will this minister and this government start to respond to the tainted blood tragedy in a way that restores public trust rather than destroys it?

Public Inquiries
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond
Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member opposite forgets that it was this minister and this member in opposition who requested and pushed the previous government to have an inquiry into the Canadian blood system.

Furthermore, we have been trying to work co-operatively with provincial governments, consumers and stakeholders across this country to put in place a new system which would ensure that the past would never happen again.

I have said privately and I have said publicly, in this House and outside this House, that I accept and have acted on all the recommendations that the eminent Justice Krever has made. We

look forward to having his report so that we can do follow-up in terms of the various measures he wishes to recommend.

Public Inquiries
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I wonder, my colleagues, if I could ask you to tighten up a bit on the questions and on the answers.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

February 4th, 1997 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of National Defence.

By gagging the commission of inquiry on Somalia on very questionable grounds, the government is actually challenging the independence of the commission and discrediting, in a way that is unprecedented, the whole system of commissions of inquiry in this country. And in doing so, it prevents the public from ever knowing the whole truth about the matter.

Could the minister tell us whom the government is protecting in this case? Its acting chief of staff, vice-admiral Murray; its ambassador to the UN, Mr. Fowler; its ambassador to NATO and former chief of staff, John Anderson; its senior officials or senior ranks within the Department of National Defence or the minister himself?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is very important to realize that the process which has been going on for nearly two years will in fact go on until the end of June.

I am convinced that the report that will be produced by the commissioners will be of the utmost importance to the government and to Canadians in general.

We have no intention and, in fact, no reason to protect anyone at all. We have to make a decision, on behalf of the government, that allows us to proceed with changes in the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence, to ensure that in future they will work far more effectively, in a far more acceptable fashion.

We are fully aware of the problem that arose in Somalia and of what has happened since Somalia. What interests the vast majority of Canadians is that we find solutions instead of continuing-

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is muzzling the commissioners. It refuses to even consider a possible extension. In so doing, it puts witnesses in a situation where they can afford to be arrogant, since they know that after June 30, everything will be over with.

Does the minister realize that by acting this way, he is making a gesture without precedent in Canadian history, one that will have consequences, because so far, no Canadian government ever denied a commission of inquiry an extension of its mandate? How can the public be expected to have any confidence in the inquiry system from now on?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asked a very good question. Every member of this House will at some time have to consider the following: when we appoint a commission, are we supposed to let the commission go on working in perpetuity?

The government has already agreed to three requests for an extension of the committee's mandate. In this case, the commission was supposed to finish its work by March 30, but it was given an extension for the study component until June 30.

Even if the hon. member does not understand, Canadians who are following the situation understand perfectly well why the government made this decision.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence says that he does not need a full report now from the Somalia inquiry because he already knows the facts. Since he knows so much about what really happened, will he answer this quiz question about these two Liberal patronage appointees: former deputy minister Robert Fowler and former chief of defence staff John Anderson were involved in a high level cover-up in the Somalia affair, true or false?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member yesterday took issue apparently with how I answered some of her questions. I just want to make sure that I understand, as we continue with this inquiry that she is conducting, whether the hon. member wishes to step outside the House and make any allegations she may wish to make out there with respect to any alleged wrongdoing she may be aware of.

I would point out to the hon. member that the deputy minister to whom she refers was appointed to that position by the previous government. The incidents that occurred in Somalia occurred under the previous administration. The appointment to which she refers, that of the deputy minister, is certainly not one that was made by this government. It was the responsibility eventually, of the person who became the Prime Minister of this country in the previous administration.

Maybe the hon. member might want to consider carefully any allegations she may wish to make and to make sure that whatever she says in here that she has the intestinal fortitude to say outside.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, if Fowler had not been shipped off to the United States we probably would not even have needed the Somalia inquiry in the first place.

Since the minister obviously cannot say, in that long answer when I just asked him for one word, that these two Liberal appointees were not involved in a cover-up, and since the minister has shut down the inquiry that would have gotten to the bottom of this and told us the truth, does the minister not realize that he is directly responsible for hiding the truth? How can we trust his bravado which is his own real cover-up for bungling?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

In posing questions hon. members should not in any way impute motive. I would hope that this slant might better better worded, the questions might be better worded in future. If the hon. minister wants to answer it, I will let him.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, let us see if we can give this a fresh start.

Part of the problem we are all grappling with-and I know that Eaton's always play an important role in this-they like guarantees and it is satisfaction guaranteed or money back at Eaton's. So let us see if we can get it straight now.

Again referring to Hansard , I want to know if the hon. member who just posed this question agrees or not, because she likes yes or no answers. Does the hon. member agree with her leader, yes or no, that he wanted the Prime Minister of Canada to ensure that there was no ultimate cover-up in the Somalia inquiry and that the results of the inquiry would be made fully public before the next federal election? Or does the hon. member not expect the next federal election in this century?